Barmy? Brilliant? Batman! 

27 June 2017

From the TVTimes London edition for 2-8 July 1966

A new series called Batman starts on Tuesday. Part two of each story will be on Wednesdays. This is probably the worst programme ever. But the chances are you’ll love it…

It’s corn run amok. And it’s hilarious. It’s absolutely downright stupid. And it’s marvellous. It’s an insult to the intelligence. And an egghead’s dream. It’s so barmy, it’s practically a work of art.

And it’s all done on purpose, because Batman adds up to a great big chunk of pure, escapist entertainment.

It has had such a fantastic impact in America that the whole country is gripped by Batmania. Youngsters go to bed in Batjamas, they drive around in miniature Batomobiles [sic] — a sort of super Super-car. Teenage girls have Batcuts at the hairdressers. Boys wear Batmasks at dances.

And it all springs from a tongue-in-cheek, children’s strip cartoon, created by Bob Kane before the last war, and made into a film serial. It was really a sort of imaginative send-up on the goodies-versus-the-baddies theme. The brand new TV series is a send-up of the send-up.

It parodies all the comic-strips and cliff-hanger adventure serials you ever saw. It’s an overblown throwback to the scream-happy days of Saturday morning cinema adventure.

Batman, for all its funny, fantastic idiocy, is really a masterfully contrived assault on mass-appeal. Executive producer William Dozier says: “Our main rule is to present Batman as straight and serious. If the two characters, Batman and Robin, are accepted as serious characters by children. from eight to 14, then there will be a tremendous amount of humour in the series for adults.”

Batman is always a crusader for justice. With his Bat costume swirling about him (it has to swirl because it doesn’t quite fit), and his trusty young partner, Robin, by his side, he goes into action against a monstrous collection of villains, crooks and rogues. I am going to break all the rules and disclose exclusively that Batman always wins. In the end, anyway.

Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) —
ready to tackle all the villains in sight

Connoisseurs of the cartoon know that Batman and Robin are really wealthy Bruce Wayne and his ward, Dick Grayson. They live in a grand house, but when they get calls for help on the Batphone they immediately head for the secret entrance to the Batpoles (it’s behind a bookcase in the den) and slide down to the Batcave.

A few seconds later, after a slick, quick change into their Bat gear, they are pursuing the crooks in their Batomobile [sic]. Onwards the cause of justice!

Mind you, there are some members of the audience who go more for some of the crooks than our intrepid heroes. There’s Cat Woman, Zelda the Great, The Joker, Mr. Freeze — and a lot more nasties.

Batman has brought fame and fortune to two unknowns. Both Adam West, as Batman, and Burt Ward, who is Robin, are in tremendous demand in America for personal appearances, guesting on other TV shows, film parts and even records.

Before Batman made the big time, West wandered through a variety of jobs ranging from radio and television, journalism to milkman, script-writer, flying and advertising.

Now he lives in a Mediterranean-style villa at Malibu Beach, where he keeps his 6ft 2in frame in peak condition by skin-diving, beach hiking, mountain ski-ing and motorcycle racing. He’s not married.

Robin — Burt Ward — has been an athlete all his life. After High School he turned to the art of karate. It was this that landed him the part of Robin.

There’s another man in the regular cast who is a batman. Alan Napier, who plays Alfred the Butler.

This, then, is the Batman team. Already outpacing James Bond. Guaranteed to make you disbelieve. Certainly to make you think this is the biggest pile of odd junk ever.

And positive to fulfil the basic demand of show business. Entertainment.

Batman was bought and networked by ABC Weekend. In London, ABC sold it on to Rediffusion, who ran it on weekdays, keeping it out of the hands of ATV. – Ed

TVTimes Northern edition for 21-27 May 1966, from the collection of Les Sheehan

You Say

8 responses to this article

Les 27 June 2017 at 2:56 pm

I remember on screen promos, where the rediffusion ‘star’ turned into a bat. The caption read: batman is coming to london.

Geoff Nash 27 June 2017 at 3:11 pm

Ooh have. …to be able to find one of those matchboxes……

Kif Bowden-Smith 27 June 2017 at 6:12 pm

The matchboxes were obtained by the Transdiffusion archive at the time (in 1966) so would be an incredible find if obtained today!

Mark Jeffries 27 June 2017 at 10:05 pm

Did ITV run the teaser scene for the first part after the titles, as the sound file seems to indicate? It would seem to me that for the second part, they would run the recap before the titles. And I guess that at least for the ABC area, the presentation slide was always up before the 20th-Century Fox logo.

Paul Mason 28 June 2017 at 6:40 am

Batman was on ABC on Sunday at 7.30pm, AFTER the 90 minutes of religious programmes.
An episode of the Avengers copied the Batman BAM POW THUD titles in a fight scene.

Joanne Gray 28 June 2017 at 6:10 pm

Rest in peace “Mayor” Adam West. You kept us entertained as children and adults.

Victor Field 25 December 2017 at 1:21 pm

Disgusted by the presentation plastering – BBC1 did something similar with “The Undersea World Of Jacques Cousteau” in the 1970s!

Mark Gardiner 12 July 2020 at 1:01 pm

I think it screened at 6.45pm Tuesdays on London ATV transmission because I had to be at Scouts at 7 for roll call and I used to try and watch the first few mins before pedalling like mad down to the Scout Hut. I hated missing out and was no repeats or vcr then so you missed it all…

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